Last blog post, I got all quibbley about Paul Theroux’s NYT list of books for a traveler to read before visiting Boston, even though I have mostly been a pass-through Boston traveler on my way to Maine.  So to answer last post’s wondering, yes, maybe books can furnish a place, but capturing the sense of that place requires something more. But what is that more?               

 For ideas of books to list that have a sense of Maine’s magic, I looked at the NYT list of books for a first time visitor to Maine, developed by Lily King, who is new to me, and sent by Roseledge Books veteran, Margaretta, who is not.  [Thanks, M.]

  • “Night of the Living Rez,” Morgan Talty
  • “When We Were the Kennedys,” Monica Wood
  • “Olive Kitteridge,” Elizabeth Strout
  • “One Man’s Meat” and “Charlotte’s Web,” E.B. White
  • “Call Me American,” Abdi Nor Iftin
  • “Landslide,” Susan Conley
  • “Empire Falls,” Richard Russo
  • “More Than You Know,” Beth Gutcheon
  • “Salem’s Lot,” “Bag of Bones” and “On Writing,” Stephen King
  • “The Beans of Egypt, Maine,” Carolyn Chute
  • “The Maine Woods,” Henry David Thoreau
  • “Temple Stream” and “Writing Life Stories,” Bill Roorbach
  • “The Sea Trilogy,” Rachel Carson
  • “Finding Freedom” and “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine: A Cookbook,” Erin French
  • “Evening,” Susan Minot
  • “One Morning in Maine” and “Blueberries for Sal,” Robert McCloskey
  • “Miss Rumphius,” Barbara Cooney
  • “Welcome Home or Someplace Like It,” Charlotte Agell
  • “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel,” Alexander Chee
  • “Curious Attractions” and “And Then Something Happened,” Debra Spark.

Like Margaretta, I’ve read or heard of some, but not others.  I learned that my heart is with coastal Maine, that I am getting old and opinionated, and that this list lacks the sense of place that comes from the ‘then’ that gives meaning to the ‘now.’ So, I decided to try making a list.

The red myrtle tree is a lovely late bloomer.  Well, aren’t we all?  Sigh.

I and Roseledge Books spent 35 years on the coast of Maine, so I know something about books and Maine and readers in Maine, but not which book will give them what they need to know to be part of Maine’s magic. It’s a tricky match.   I used to suggest that visitors to Maine should read Robert Mcloskey,s ‘One Morning in Maine’, and, if you thought nothing happened, Maine may not be for you.  Maine’s magic is elusive.

So, what is the ‘more’ that a sense of that place requires.                  .  

 Sometimes a picture says it better than a whole book. And if copying the picture is out of bounds, maybe the headline will do. For example, this NYT article about a Maine gathering is perfect.

One Morning in Maine,

225 People Went to the Library

Robert McCloskey’s daughter, Sarah, now a grown-up Sal, read her father’s book,, ‘Blueberries for Sal’. New and old friends crowded into the Library of a Coastal village to see the author’s very accurate drawings for his books and  be part of the event.  It was pure ME, but maybe you had to be there, or look at the NYT article and remember. 

I wasn’t there for the McCloskey gathering, but I was in the crowded meeting room of the East Wind Inn on a hot July afternoon when an author came to talk about the papers of Dorothea Lange and Sarah Orne Jewett, but after about ten minutes of heroic effort trying to discuss DL, she ended up mediating a huge and wonderful disagreement about where SOJ had landed and lived when she came to Tenants Harbor, and if she described those piers and paths in her classic book, ‘Country of the Pointed Firs.’ Everyone there had a dog-eared edition of COPF open and ready for citing Some had historical or town maps. And Roseledge Books had its best sales ever –to that day Pure ME, pure then and now, pure fun. I wish I had a picture. Fortunately, my mind’s eye gets better [well, more interesting] with Irish age.

I have a special place in my heart for Sarah Orne Jewett’s Country of the Pointed Firs, not because it’s a riveting tale, classics rarely are, but because the book led me to Tenants Harbor and Roseledge summers, and, thereby, illustrates, again, how the past always matters. then leads to now, and sometimes wrong  ends up right. 

[My SOJ story… I knew from a stone on Monhegan that Orne was a variant of the family name Horn behind HORN HILL. So when my weakening right side said no more to the rocky trails I loved, I flailed about for an alternative, until a MN Health Department colleague from Maine left his latest issue of DownEast Magazine on my desk. I paged through the mostly pictures and ads and spotted a 4 line ad ‘EAST WIND INN, Country of the Pointed Firs, Tenants Harbor, Maine, Phone: (207) 372-6366.’ Totally misconstruing the situation, I figured there might be a tie between HORN of Monhegan and ORNE in a Tenants Harbor ad.  So if I loved Monhegan, as I did and do,  then….  I immediately wrote for reservations and was on my way to summers in Roseledge.]

And, saving the best for last….

 Heather Cox Richardson is a 4th generation Mainer, and historian who, in her daily ‘Letters from an American’, sums up how the ‘then’ informs the ‘now’ of current events.  I read her missives faithfully, but especially like the Sunday pictures with her captions and what they say about a sense of place.  Here is a great example.  

‘When I was a child, I loved a painting my mother had of a scene also captured in a framed photograph she owned, faded by then into grays. The painting was not great art, but it was made up of the blues and browns and greens I have always loved, and the water and mountains spoke to me. Mother always told me the picture was painted by a friend of her father’s— he died when I was a baby— and it was an image of one of their favorite fishing spots, although she had no idea where it was. Mother gave that painting to me, and I have always had it up in one place or another, so Buddy knows it, too. 

A few weekends ago when we stood at this spot at the end of Jordan Pond, we said almost at the same time: “It’s that painting.”                          

[Photo by Buddy Poland]

Very cool to stand in the same spot my grandfather’s friend painted in what can’t have been later than the 1930s, and see the same thing he saw. The past is really not that far away. But what really struck me seeing this view was the inverse of that observation. For my grandfather’s nameless and long-gone fishing buddy, who certainly never knew that the painting he made for his friend would continue to speak to someone a hundred years later, the future wasn’t that far away either.’          

To be continued, mostly because I had fun and want to keep on thinking about a sense of place, [and my liking best those murder mysteries that have it], how ‘then’ in ‘now’ does or can fit outside of Maine, and which books work as examples.

Oh, and I’m working on poems of 50 words or fewer, only one of which can be entered in King County’s public poetry contest.  Here is one of my potential entries, pertinent because of my picture with myrtle above.  

The top of my head is round and bald, like tonsured monks of old. 
Theirs were perfect, mine is not, with  wiggles and bumps, I’m told. 
I’ll learn from the monks, who with the nuns, will one day coed-mix, 
And I’ll be ever ready, as their new day ABBETRIX.

Millie’s review, ‘What?’

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Question of the day: Books may furnish a room, but can they capture a sense of a place?

I am 4 years new to Seattle and still don’t know what makes it what it is, except for Charlie and the weather, which make it my current favorite place to be. When I was here on sabbatical, 30 years ago, Charlie sent me “get ready books”: Timothy Egan’s “The Good Rain” and a book of Seattle sketches, both of which were perfect and surely a tribute to Charlie’s upbringing. Once here, I found Edith Iglauer’s “Fishing With John” and Eduardo Galeano’s “Memory of Fire Trilogy”, both of which I loved and found in Seattle’s great Elliott Bay bookstore. I have since added David Guterson’s “Snow Falling on Cedars” and Earl Emerson’s mysteries, which are set in or near Seattle and, in Earl Emerson’s books, usually include public library action. Recently, my early breakfast colleague, who has lived here for 60 years, and I both read Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”, which was mostly set in Seattle. She hated it, and I loved it, although the Seattle tie didn’t matter to me, and maybe not to her either, which illustrates how much I still don’t have a sense of the essential Seattle.  Suggestions welcome.            

CIVIC DUTY ACTION SHOT of broken brick for my Survey of Ballard’s Bumpy Walkways.

So how to prepare strangers to visit a strange land, as I was and am in Seattle? The NYT asks a knowing author to recommend a list of books to “read your way through [named city]” as a kind of prep walk. For example, Paul Theroux “read his way through Boston”. He said of the list he developed that “[W]hat] interests me [i]s not a particular book but a literary intelligence, a Yankee sensibility enshrined in many local books.”  Okay.  I looked for Boston’s links to my summers in Maine, so I found his list wanting, but a good place to start.. 

                     Here is Paul Theroux’s list.

“The Last Hurrah,” Edwin O’Connor
“Two Years Before the Mast,” Richard Henry Dana Jr.
“Snow-Bound,” John Greenleaf Whittier
“Thanksgiving Day,” Lydia Maria Child
“Lydia Maria Child: A Radical American Life,” Lydia Moland
“Paul Revere’s Ride,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Johnny Tremain,” Esther Forbes
“The Cardinal,” Henry Morton Robinson
“By Any Means Necessary,” Malcolm X
“The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” George V. Higgins
“Sacred” and “Mystic River,” Dennis Lehane
“Walden” and “Cape Cod,” Henry David Thoreau
“Concord Hymn,” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville
“Mayflower,” Nathaniel Philbrick
“Memory of Cape Cod,” Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Tough Guys Don’t Dance,” Norman Mailer
“Vanity of Duluoz,” Jack Kerouac

The list is a bit too English Lit syllabus for me, but I had read some, knew about others, and showed the list to some of my reader friends who have either lived in Boston or have had some connection to it. No one had read all – or even most – of the books, and everyone had some suggestions to add that would make the list more personally pertinent. And isn’t that the problem! Everybody reads a book differently and everyone experiences an experience differently. Here are their additions.

William Martin’s book “Back Bay”, and I would add his book, “Cape Cod” , because I often stopped over on my way to Maine to visit a college roommate who lived near Hyannis.
Robert B Parker’s Spenser mystery novels, and one added his Jesse Stone TV shows.
Elyssa East’s “Dogtown”, because its setting, Gloucester, is very close to Boston, and because I love Marsden Hartley, which is why I chose to read the book, and whose paintings are clearly in and/or of Maine. Then, surprisingly, the book became a true-crime murder mystery with Peter Hodgkins being convicted of murder. Well! Surely, in the grand tradition of New England which connects everybody to everybody else – if you just go back a ways, Scott Hodgkins, a Mainer and long-suffering friend, will want to know he has another cousin and a murderer in the family, if, as I am assuming, they share the same Hodgkins forebears who settled somewhere Glouster-ish in the 1600’s.
Henry Beston’s “The Outermost House” is on Cape Cod, though Henry Beston lived and farmed n Maine.
Abigail Adams’ Letters, and David McCullough’s biography of John Adams brought history emphasis forward, as wass appropriate if you spent most of K-12 school years in upstate NY.
Nicholas Kilmer’s Fred Taylor mysteries
Cleveland Amory’s “The Proper Bostonians”. Thanks to the Wahpeton Public Library collection from which, my mother’s note made clear that I, at 7 years old, could check out anything I wanted, which I did. I still choose eclectically and, thus, feel well-equipped to take on the world. Thanks, mom.
Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings”.                                                               For more suggestions, click on the NYT article noted above and check the “Comments”.  


And then, recently, two acquaintances, one from Ireland and the other a West Texan, who had never been east of the Mississippi asked, “I’m going to Maine. I’ve never been there. What books should I read?” “ARGH! Maine is the place of my heart. Where do I start?”

CIVIC DUTY ACTION SHOT of thumbing-down mooring wretched excess.

I’m working on it, but slowly. I’m currently binge reading murder mysteries based on places and people I want to know about, as narrated by someone who probably knows. I just finished Paul Doiron’s Dead Man’s Wake, Mike Bowditch’s latest adventure, set, as always, somewhere in Maine. The series will be on my “Maine List”. I’m about to start Steve Hamilton’s “A Cold Day in Paradise”, set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [Thanks, Carole], Alisa Valdes’ “Hollow Beasts”, set in New Mexico, and the first in a new series that sounds promising, Marcie Rendon’s “Murder on the Red River”, set n my home country, as Wahpeton is at the “Head of the Red” [Thanks, Sara], and, yes, I have been remiss, but will catch up soon, with William Kent Kreger’s “Fox Creek”.  I can’t not mention my favorite, C.J. Box, and his detective, Game Warden Joe Pickett, whose next Wyoming adventure, “Three Inch Teeth”, is due in February, 2024.  I have preordered it for my Kindle, and Charlie has, AGAIN, threatened to dismantle my 1-Click ordering capability, which is very easy to do, and which I am very good at.

Just a little fun: At Poetry Club, Gary’s assigned task was to choose 3 poems from a favorite poet. I added reasons that each poem mattered, too. I chose Wislawa Szymborska, and her poem “Vietnam” which influenced the poem I am working on, currently titled “Ode to Charlie’s List of Least Favorite Words” and included below,

Ode to Charlie’s List of Least Favorite Words

“I have an idea,” I say, and Charlie says, “Oh, no.”
“I could help you with that.” “I don’t think so.”
“I have a thought.” “Always a worry.” .
“Guess what?” “No.”

“Charlie?” “What now?”
“I’m stuck in the elevator, or
The wheelchair’s joystick is stuck under the table, or
A little coffee spilled on the keyboard, or
The computer is broken, and the screen is totally blank.
I need help.” “How do you do it?”

“I could tow your golf bag AND be the drinks cart.” “Too few blacktop paths.”
“I could set up in the bed of a utility truck.” “No.”
“I might need an umbrella.” “You are a difficult person.”

“Do you want a latte?” “Do you?”
“Yes.” “Okay..” [ He wants a latte, too.]
“Isn’t it lucky I want a latte at just the right time?” [Sipping] “Mm-m-m.”


That’s it, but for a goodbye haiku.  More coming. Much to report, with bad fingers and sticky keyboard vowels. Blame it on the Poetry Club.

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    This post is later than late because WordPress changed itself, so I sent it out on email to my 4 faithful readers, but Charlie fixed this latest catastrophe, as he always can and does, and I am, finally, sufficiently remorseful and peppier, too, and some noteworthy thoughts don’t die.  So this is a rewrite.  And I am looking into Substack.

Poetry Club met today, always a good time.  Intrepid Convener Gary’s assigned task was to “choose and bring to read your 3 favorite poems.”  Today, for me, that would be poems appreciating libraries, as written by the poets, or as understood, and, sometimes,” amended” by me. I figured that, with just a few poetic fiddlings, I could recognize the librarians in my life, especially those of my  early  freedom-to-read good times in  Wahpeton’s Leach Public Library.  And I could subtly expose Gov. DeSantis as a ding dong. But is fiddling  legal?  My fellow early breakfast eater and lawyer, Gil, said, “Go for it.” So I have.  [I like Gil.] These 3 poems are my current favs.  My “amendments” are in boldface.


As my dad used to say of my writing assignments, “This is good.  Let’s make it even better.”   I tried to do that here by amending the poem to end on a more promising note.

To David, About His Education by Howard Nemerov
[ from The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. © University of Chicago Press, 1972.]

The world is full of mostly invisible things,
And there is no way but putting the mind’s eye,
Or its nose, in a book, to find them out,
Things like the square root of Everest
Or how many times Byron goes into Texas,
Or whether the law of the excluded middle
Applies west of the Rockies. For these
And the like reasons, you have to go to school
And study books and listen to what you are told,
And sometimes try to remember. Though I don’t know
What you will do with the mean annual rainfall
On Plato’s Republic, or the calorie content
Of the Diet of Worms, such things are said to be
Good for you, and you will have to learn them
In order to become one of the grown-ups
Who sees invisible things neither steadily nor whole,
But keeps gravely the grand confusion of the world
Under his hat, which is where it belongs,
And teaches small children to do this in their tum.
Always knowing that you or yours can go to the library to sort things out.

I voted. Library’s Ballot Box is City’s busiest, of course.

I love this next poem, because thinking IS most of my doing these days [plus the “actions” chronicled  in my photos e.g. see below], so I know how much “doing the library” informs this poem.  I just made it more explicit.  And I love thinking about all the ways “being elastic” matters. 

THINK AND DO by Ron Padgett 
[ from Collected Poems. © Coffee House Press, 2013]

I always have to be doing something, accomplishing some-
thing, fixing something, going somewhere, feeling purposeful,
useful, competent—even coughing, as I just did, gives me the
satisfaction of having “just cleared something up.” The phone
bill arrives and minutes later I’ve written the check. The world
starts to go to war and I shout, “Hey, wait a second, let’s think
about this!” and they lay down their arms, go to the library, and ruminate.
they are frozen in postures of thought, like Rodin’s statue, the
one outside Philosophy Hall at Columbia. His accomplish-
ments are muscular. How could a guy with such big muscles be
thinking so much? It gives you the idea that he’s worked all his
life to get those muscles, and now he has no use for them. It
makes him pensive, sober, even depressed sometimes, and
because his range of motion is nil, he cannot leap down from
the pedestal, find questions in the stacks, and attend classes in Philosophy Hall.
I am so
lucky to be elastic! I am so happy to have found the OED,
be able to think of the
word elastic, and have it snap me back to underwear,                        which reminds me: I have to do the laundry soon, and the library sooner.

This last poem is perfect as is. Love of libraries fuels more than ⅓ of the lines.  And they are great lines.

FIELD GUIDE by Tony Hoagland
[From Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. © Graywolf Press, 2010.]

Once, in the cool blue middle of a lake,
up to my neck in that most precious element of all,
I found a pale-gray, curled-upwards pigeon feather
floating on the tension of the water
at the very instant when a dragonfly,
like a blue-green iridescent bobby pin,
hovered over it, then lit, and rested.
That’s all.
I mention this in the same way
that I fold the corner of a page
in certain library books,
so that the next reader will know
where to look for the good parts.


My challenge to the Poetry Clubbers was, after hearing the poems read aloud, to decide which poem had no amendments. Surely, my clever wordsmithing would be so smooth, someone would guess poem 1 or 2.  But, no. Steve, the only guesser, chose, correctly, poem 3, “Field Guide” by Tony Hoagland, and made it worse by noting it had no library stuff “muckng it up”  Well, ouch!  [I may be mis-remembering his exact words, but not his clear intent, especially as the original poem had 5 of 13 lines about the library.]  Sigh. 

I point and puzzle. Library has a saran-wrapped hole in it. Why?

I had a great good time thinking about amendable poems.  I have found that many, maybe most, of the poems I like are potential library-lover-poems, especially if they are read by a knowing person with sufficient, perfect “other” words and opinions, which, ahem, I am.  Oh, the exciting possibilities for future blog posts!  


The other news and part of the reason for this delayed post is that I was less peppy [“Not always a bad thing,” says Charlie.], but now I  am peppier, thanks to antibiotics I took for an infection  This is good, because it means my peppiness, apparently, is not related to the pill I have started taking in order to quell the papillary carcinoma [cancerous lump] in my left booby.  A papillary carcinoma is uncommon or rare [.5 of 1% of breast cancers], so it should not quell my pursuits, just as my Arnold-Chiari, Type IIB diagnosis of 40 years ago did not quell them then.  According to the biopsy report, my cauliflower-like tumor should respond mightily to the hormone therapy [Aromasin] my oncologists have prescribed, along with a year of their watching and imaging.  Here’s to slow or no growth or spread!  

I have some experience with dire news, and I say of this latest dose, “bring it on”, as I devour Dr. Google, do what Millie says, drive Charlie nuts and adapt, adapt, adapt..  I like to think of all of this as the “hopefulness coupled with curiosity” espoused by neuroscientist, David J. Linden in his just-in- time essay in the NYT, 3/18/23.  Gloria Gaynor and a little “I Will Survive” is always good, too.

Time to quit fussing and post this news.  I’m working on book bits and will post that fussed over melange soon.  And I wrote two killer responses to my least favorite Poetry Club charge.    Are they killer responses if only I think it?  Is the thought as bad as the deed?  Oh, the fun of a being a philosophy major.  

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GOOD NEW YEAR NEWS and ditch grasses

[I like to think these news items are a bit like Louis Jenkins’ “small stories”, without his poetic chops.]

Good News, finally! Charlie and I both had COVID and  were quarantined together for ten days in my studio apartment of about 400 square feet, which is bad news, but we had been boosted, recovered quickly, which is good news, and committed neither mom-icide or son-icide, which is very good news. WHEW!


 Good news!  Maira Kalman’s new book, Women Holding Things, is my current favorite and a wonder.   It is mostly pictures she painted of, yes, women holding things, which cumulate to an affirmation of women and to her wise, hopeful advice: ”It is hard work to hold everything and it never ends. You may be exhausted from holding things and disheartened….  But then there is the next moment and the next day… hold on.” I love Maira Kalman, and her memoir, Principles of Uncertainty may be the best place to start, if you want more. 

I wish I could give  Women Holding Things to every strong woman that I know, and, though I would start with my two marvelous nieces [Big shout out to Sarah and Susan], I can’t think of any women I know well who are not strong.  

Action shot:  Thinking about biking roads with ditch grasses, fields, and meadowlarks.

But if “holding something” were key, I remember maybe most Sister Margery Smith, Irish person and St. Kate’s archivist extraordinaire, telling me, on my way out of her office to teach a  five hour, Friday night class, that she thought, for all my name and tongue, that I might not be Irish.  Well, that stopped me in my tracks.  “Why not?” I asked.  Pause.  “You apparently don’t know how to hold a grudge,” she said, somberly, “but I would be happy to teach you.”  I love and miss Sister Margery.  She clearly belongs in the book. 


Good news!  Old dogs CAN learn new tricks!  I read a NYT report of a group of specialists,  aging as I write, asking if  oldies can still learn.  My fun was being introduced to “cognitive neuroplasticity”, which I think means that  the oldie’s  lifetime of memories, experience, and learning are lurking in the brain, ready to contribute to to the oldie’s thinking, and, when traveling changeable brain-paths, may result in different, unexpected [but probably exciting] conclusions. Though I can’t find the words, I am sure I read this and know it anyhow, because, like other former faculty of Metro State or St. Kate’s Weekend College, I know that “olders” or “pre-oldies”  make the most interesting, and the best ever, students, for just these reasons.

(These are the words I did find.  “[E]xperts in geriatrics say that people in their 80s who are active, engaged and have a sense of purpose can remain productive and healthy — and that wisdom and experience are important factors to consider….  [In people who are active], experts say, the brain continues to evolve and some brain functions can even improve — a phenomenon experts call the ‘neuroplasticity of aging.’…  ‘Age,’ he said, ‘is not something to consider on its own.’”                     NYT, 11/19/2022) 

Action Shot: See ditch grasses in the rod-iron fence, sculpted by a prairie soul.   

I love the affirmation, FINALLY, that seeing things “differently” is an oldie plus. Take that, favorite brother-in-law Ralph.  He and I were watching the boats in Tenants Harbor and, for some [?] reason, I mentioned that it was a good thing that the Irish were in Iceland before the Vikings, so that Brendan and his buds could teach the marauding Vikings how to sail the longer distances required to get them out of Ireland.  My b-i-l stared at me and asked, somewhat snarkily, as I recall, “Did you read that in a book or did you just make it up?”  “Some of both.” I said, winningly.  I mean, isn’t putting found facts “in context” what understanding life, then and now, is all about? 

(Just to get you started thinking differently about our “explorer genes”, I suggest Tim Severin’s The Brendan Voyage, and more “subtly” Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s mystery, “Last Rituals”.)

But before you give facts a context, you have to find them, which brings to mind ever useful librarians, who, as society’s fact finders, working together with fact users, are contemporary “shape-shifters”, who apply one or another theory or narrative or frame to the facts found.  I love the thought of the librarian’s power to find facts and frames to amend the argument, especially in this day of “cancel culture” on the left, “ban books” on the right, and too much mis-information generally.  Let’s hear it – in shushed tones – for librarians   Yay, librarians!

[For more about  warrior librarians, read Stephen Marche’s article in The Guardian about the warrior librarians of Ukraine and Joshua Hammar’s book, The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu.]

Action shot: Ignore the shadows and glare to almost see the penciled ditch grasses.    [Diana Crane’s watercolor-ed ditch grasses had pink and cost too much.] 

————————————————                                                                                   Good News!  Santa got my email! 

Christmas in Seattle, 2022                                                                                                                  To Santa,                                                                                                                                                  Re:   Very Good Mother’s Christmas List, 1st  edition

All I want for Christmas is for you or an elf to do the following:                                           1.  Sort, toss and/or file the piles of mail.                                                                                         2.  Sort, store, or arrange table tops [especially, but not only, at head of sofa].                         3.  Arrange, artfully, scarves on the scarf rack.                                                                           4.  Arrange or tidy, then dust or vacuum desk and duck-on-table tops.                                 5.  Hang, or place differently, 4 pictures.                                                                                              If there is any confusion, I can help.

 From your very good mother

 So far, three weeks later, disguising himself as Charlie in his awful athleisure pants, Santa has addressed the duck-on-table top, or 1/2 of item 4.  I am hopeful.


Very Good News.  I love this thought [from Louis Jenkins’ poem, “Freeze”] :

…“Everything dies, we understand. But the mind of the observer,                                     which cannot imagine not imagining,                                                                                         goes on.”…

I will keep on imagining so that I can keep on cheering up the people I meet, which is my long and still held purpose, no matter how lame I and my jokes [I prefer “small stories”] get.  If you are reading this, and even if you’re not one of the enlightened twelve, that includes you.  So with the longer life that having purpose supports,  I will post again. 

Here’s to a hopeful year of thinking and doing and laughing so hard you cant talk, of hating hate and figuring out some way you can make the world more livable, etc., etc., etc.  I am about to write to the Seattle Times Book Editor about my current favorite mystery series or sites.  [Well, she asked for suggestions.]  Happy New Year to all, from Seattle, where it is 47 degrees and raining.                





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For reasons unknown, my last blog post vanished. I mean poof! It was gone. “Error 403” or “Error 404”’was all I got. No trash, no delete, no “sysop [Charlie] forgot,” nothing. I figured, like taking away my curly hair, God smote me for the sin of pride because I had fun writing it. Charlie thinks the machines are paying me back for my mistreatment of them. I think it’s the Russians, and I told Charlie not to pay the ransom. So here is my resurrection re-write, sans final edit embellishments.

But first a note to my vanished post’s 8 commenters: you are my heroes. Okay, I failed to include the mysteries of William Kent Krueger. I like him a lot, and with his Cork O’Connor, WKK is to northern MN, as Paul Doiron is to ME, or as C.J. Box is to WY. Maybe most telling, WKK shared a writers’ group with two of my Metro State colleagues.

Now, finally, the vanished post is resurrected!                                                                                        x x x x x x x x x xxxx x x x x x x x x xx x x x x x x x x x x x x x  x x x x x x xx x xx

BOOKISH INCIDENTS REPORT                                                                                    [This is a bookish post, in the spirit of economist Paul Krugman’s wonkish NYT “posts”.]   

Democracy is bruised, but unbroken, and now, the healing can continue.  Thank you for voting.                                                                                                                                                  Today’s haiku:  My new bit of twit-speak is LNU for Last Name Unremembered.  which is useful for aging book recommenders.  Charlie argued that ”forgotten” is more accurate, more Twitter-ish, and asked, “Was “unremembered” even a word?”  Well, Google Editor knows it is, and, dictionaries say that “unremembered” can mean “unrecorded” or not available to be known and so, without further quibbling, and, recognizing that the oldie brain is a wondrous thing, LNU the Twit bit shall remain.  

 ONTO THE BOOKISH PART:                                                                                            Friend Sara, who reads a lot of mysteries and sci-fi, and who knows what else, [and who knows that I don’t read sci-fi because it is NOW with some differences inserted, e.g. power, technology, climate, and a hypothesized THEN described ad infinitum, and I usually quarrel with the inserts or their effects], wanted to exchange current good reads with which to face whatever is next.  I said, “Sure,” to mysteries. 

Read Andy Borowitz’ “Profiles in Ignorance”, watch boats, and sigh.

  SARA’S LIST with my comments:

Sinister Graves, by Marcie Rendon is set in 1970’s Minnesota on the White Earth Reservation. New to me, sounds good, so I 1-click ordered the first of her Cash Blackbear trilogy, Murder on the Red River.  I am, after all, a child of Wahpeton, ND, the “head of the Red” River.                                                                                                                                      Craig Johnson (Hell and Back) new- and everything else he has written.  I liked a lot the six seasons of Longmire, based on Craig Johnson’s mysteries, but his Wyoming-set books, not so much.  C.J. Box, with his 4 generation heritage,  is my go-to guy for Wyomig, especially with ranger Joe Pickett and wife, Marybeth, town LIBRARIAN!  Sara does not like the Netflix? video option.                                      The Cartographers, by Peng Shepherd, is already on my partly-read list, and so far, it’s a finisher.  Mary Wagner recommended it to me, and she was an excellent recommender, but a mystery with maps would have caught my eye for at least a first thought.                                                                                                                                 Desolation Canyon, by PJ Tracy, is the second of the author’s works set in LA, a departure from the Minneapolis-based mysteries she co-wrote with her mom, who died recently.  I often choose books  for a location and its culture, and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Joe Eid’s I.Q. are enough LA for me right now.                                  The Counterclockwise Heart, by Brian Farrey is fantasy.  I KNEW she’d try to slip one by me.  Too many other books I’d rather read more.                                                        Two Storm Wood, by Phillip Gray, treads the ground and some of the mysteries of post -WWI carnage.  For now, Charles Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge’s post-WW1 World is all I can stomach.                                                                                                      Shadows Reel, by C.J Box is fun, just to anticipate.  I’ve already 1-click pre-ordered it. I love this series for many reasons, but one big one is his even-handed treatment of environmental issues.  Only problem is that Lynne Cheney, past spoiler-Director of the NEH does, too. Noteworthy daughter, Liz, suggests she’s a good mother, though.

Ponder Maira Kalman’s “Women Holding Things”, love, love them, and be proud.

MY LIST of current mysteries is split:   ALREADY READ and WAITING:        ALREADY READ, waiting for next one–if there is a next one:      

Elsa Hart’s Li Du Trilogy, set in 18th Century, SW China.  Love the books, learned a lot, AND Li Du is a librarian.                                                                                                        Jane Harper’s Aaron Falk Trilogy, set in contemporary Australia.  Third volume due December, 2033.  Another good Australia read is Peter Temple’s Jack Irish mysteries, which are also a series on Acorn, which is inexpensive and home to other pertinent, beautifully filmed series. Paul Doiron’s Trooper Mike Bowditch mysteries, set all over interior and coastal Maine.                                                                                                    Elly Griffiths’ Archaeologist and Professor Ruth Galloway mysteries, set in Norfolk by the sea, in NE England.                                                                                                Val McDiarmid’s DS Karen Pirie mysteries, set in St. Andrews, Scotland.          Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy, set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.                         Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon, part of Israel’s Mossad’s very contemporary activities.        David Ignatius, my CIA and Middle Eastern go-to guy and a Washington Post columnist.


While Justice Sleeps, by Stacy Abrams. Likened by Scott Turow to John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, which I liked, and Ms. Abrams will know the government’s ways of which she writes.

Saratoga Paycheck by Stephen Dobyns.  Herein,  Charlie Bradshaw  is retired, but not tired, and so am I.  Great series, set in upstate NY, as is the Clare Fergusson / Russ VanAlstyne series, by Julia Spencer-Fleming, which I also like. Stephen Dobyns is also a poet, which I like, because poets don’t waste words. 

My Darling Detective, by Howard Norman.  I loved Howard Norman’s earlier mystery, The Bird Artist, with its layers and setting, and this one also has layers and probing, and setting on the Canadian Maritime coast.     

Writ in Stone, by Cora Harrison.  Book 4 of The Burren Mysteries, set in 16thC West of Ireland, brings to mind the Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Tremayne, which I liked a lot and which give potential to my increasingly tonsured head. 

CODA                                                                                                                                                I can’t remember what I said after this listing in the vanished post, except to acknowledge that I had gotten carried away AGAIN, that I had more BOOKISH INCIDENTS to report, and that I had to get reading-ready for Poetry Club.  Hint: I love Wislawa Szymborsrka.   More to come. 

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The ding-dongs are at it again, banning books they don’t like and may never have read.  Stephen King brings it home with a great review of Celeste Ng’s new dystopian novel, “ Our Missing Hearts,” in which, among other  appallingnesses, library books are pulled from the shelves and turned into toilet paper. He says, “On another level, ‘Our Missing Hearts’ is a meditation on the sometimes accidental power of words. Why are Mr. Gardner’s library shelves so empty? Because students must not have access to books that ‘might expose them to dangerous ideas.’ This isn’t dystopian fiction but actual fact, as rancorous school curriculum meetings and protests across the United States have proved. The Florida Parental Rights Bill, signed by Governor DeSantis in March of this year, is basically a free pass to text censorship.”  Gasp!


Libraries are unbanning books!  Of special note is the Unbanned Books Program of the Brooklyn Public Library.  BPL is issuing an e-card to ANY TEENAGER who applies, and with that card any user has access to the 500,000 e-reader titles, free of charge.  New York Public Library is making books available through its SimplyE reader app in a campaign called Books for All. The app is downloadable without a library card.  Thank heavens for Ellen’s good work with technology and networking in NYC classrooms. And Seattle Public Library is encouraging everyone to read banned and challenged books in order to show support for reading, authors, and access.


Ode to beings that blossom in the Fall:  We are many, are we you?


 What is a book lover, who values freedom to choose and use, to do?             1.Run for your local library board, or guilt other good choices into doing so.  Andy Borowitz accepted an invitation to join his local Library Board in Hanover N. H.  As he explained, “I realized that libraries are now political because people want to keep certain books out of our children’s hands, so if I really want to participate in democracy and not just talk about it, then I had to say yes.” My niece, Susan, in suburban Boston would be great on the Library Board, as would Scott, who is already busy with the Historical Society, Brian, Steve after he moves, or Ann in St. George.    

 [An aside: With my Kindle 1-click ordering,  which Charlie threatens to dismantle, I just bought Andy Borowitz’s new book, “Profiles in Ignorance: How American Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber” which I will read as soon as I hurry through C.J. Box’s latest Cassie Derwall mystery, Treasure Chest, which is good, but not as much fun as the next best thing promises.]

2.”Intrude’’ everywhere, anytime, to highlight the infinite potential that free access to libraries makes possible.  Putting it less delicately, “butting-in” is one of my major superpowers.  Some examples: 

Example:   Millie’s excellent grandson, Magnus, is running for Freshman Class President, using as his platform, a Socrates’ quote: “Democracy is only as good as the education that surrounds it.”  I immediately emailed Millie to be sure that Magnus remembers to note  that “education” means “intelligent voters,” or people who ask  questions [Socratic method alert!] and search for answers [in libraries, etc.], before and after voting.  Surely, Socrates would have agreed if he had lived 200 years later, when the Alexandrian Library thrived.  No reply, yet, from Millie.

Example:  Charlie, lifelong friend Ben, a reader and lifelong party to my suggestions, his excellent daughter, Margaret, and I met just before she became a freshman at Montana State University in Bozeman.  I dived right in and asked her if she used libraries.  She said “Not really,” which I think is polite teenager-ese for “No.” I gasped, took a moment to recover, and suggested she might want to get to know the Bozeman Public Library, in case the Montana State U Library runs out of what she needs [as Marquette U’s Library did when I needed a Shakespeare play. So I went to the Milwaukee Public Library and checked out Troilus and Cressida, not Shakespeare’s best, — okay, it was the only one left on the shelf  — and finished the assignment on time.].  And  being totally with it,  I noted that the Bozeman PL has ebooks.  I casually.  mentioned I would email her some irresistible book suggestions She looked pleasantly unenthusiastic.  I liked her a lot and suggested:  Two of my favorite memoirs: Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, because Margaret was working in a lab and loving it, and is a probable STEM major; Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies, because she is a swimmer; and two good mystery series set in or near Bozeman: Jamie Lee Harrison’s 4 murder mysteries, set in Blue Deer, MT, near Bozeman.  Edge of the Crazies is the first; and C.J. Box’s Cassie Derwall, PI mysteries: The Bitteroots  and Treasure Chest, both with her office set in Bozeman.  Follow-up at Thanksgiving, maybe.

UNBAN THE BOOKS!  FREE THE IDEAS!  Read a book.  Be all you can be.

Example:  At the Poetry Club meeting, I handed out “Unban the Books” bookmarks [Handmade,  thanks to Amy.] to a very modest reaction.  Reilly thought his bookmark said “Urban the Books” [He was once an urban researcher.], which was not okay as it excluded my rural roots.  So we compared who read the most-challenged book while we were in HS.  Well, nobody beats his [D.H. Lawrence’s] Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I’ll argue that Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country was more dangerous.  So there.  And no one left a bookmark on the table, which I consider a good sign.

Anne, who is in the Poetry Club and convenes the Shakespeare Reading Group, works with Seattle PL to get copies of the chosen play, albeit in different editions, but hasn’t yet run into the banned book issue.  I offered to try to get Shakespeare banned, or at least challenged, at SPL so she and her group could do their civic duty, and read a banned or challenged book.  I lost her halfway through that idea. But the next day, she casually put her “Unban the Books” bookmark on the Ballard HS Librarian’s desk, not knowing that Susan, who convenes the Book Club, was both looking at Seattle PL’s list for Book Club choices and working with the Ballard HS Librarian on a  project to have Ballard HS “teenies” and Landmark “oldies” read  the same book and react to it. Good work, Anne.  I gave Susan my last, first run. Unban the Books bookmark.  Clearly, we are weaving an untangled web.  Any suggestions?  


Which is the Nordic Swan?  Only one is made of plastic bucket lids.

 On the way to the Lockspot’s cinnamon roll, I rolled on the smoothly black-topped bike trail to familiarize the bicycle riders with the growing number of happy rollers of an age out and about in Ballard and the world.  Okay, there was one little incident.  I mean, who could hear the little ding-ding of the bicycle horn?  Especially with street traffic to my right.  Charlie said I was in the middle of the two bike lanes and wiggling.  I explained it all.  He’s threatening AGAIN to get an air horn, mostly for  my mask violations.

So many civic duties to do, so many a “that’s illegal”  from Charlie.  What’s a civic duty activist mother to do?



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AT THE ZOO from A to Z

Big excitement here.  We went to the zoo.  “FIELD TRIP!  FIELD TRIP!“ Charlie chanted, inappropriately. It was my first time on the city bus, albeit with a minder, and my first time wearing my safari-ish hat.  Cristy, who is our fitness person, event planner, and my minder, asked me to write captions for the way-too-many pictures she was bound to take.  I said I would make up an alphabet of the zoo trip, and she could decide what pictures to put with what letters. She agreed and also agreed to the 17 syllables of haiku – I think to control my rambling. 

  ZOO TRIP ALPHABET  in haiku [with personal asides in italics]   

 A is for ANTELOPES, pictured, not grazing with zebras, giraffes, and?                     First “lettered” animal I did not see.                                                                                                B is for BARNS with tall doors for proud giraffes or raised cherry-pickers.                         I think.  Nothing actually happened.  Handsome structure, though.                                      B is for BUS RIDES – – easy and fun, if curb cuts and sidewalks are near.                    And no fentanyl fumes! First trip [so to speak] on a city bus.

C is for CIRCLES, with confused multitaskers coming and going.

D is for DIETING, which the TAPIR and RHINOS might want to try. 

E is for EATING which many were,  bending over, displaying rumps.   

Maine has blueberries, Washington has cherries,  grown “closer to the moon.” 


F is for FENCES – many, mostly hidden, but comfortingly real.  

G is for GAZELLE, antelope kin, big toothpick horns, and third grazer.   .  

G is for GIRAFFE, nibbling high leaves, and leaving low leaves  for shorties.

H is for  HALLELUJAH DAYS with questions raised and fresh air basked in.

H is for HIDING animals, which I would be, too, if I lived here.

I is for IBEX: long curved horns, antelope kin, not third grazer, ARGHH!. .                  Second “lettered” animal I did not see.                                                                                         J is for JUNGLE foliage, which was claustrophobia-inducing.                                              I am a prairie person, breathing best with a big sky.                                                                K is for KIDS, many, energetic, noisy, and oblivious.

L is for LOST, which we only once were.  Tough herding oldies and cats.                         Too many viewng  circles with people-hiding foliage, off the black-topped path.              M is for the MANY OF US who had a very good time.  Yay day!                        

N is for NONSENSE: questions and comments that make everything more fun.

O is for OBSERVERS: we oldies-but-goodies, and kids, lots of k ids.                               And mothers with space-eating strollers, talking over my head.                                             O is for ORANGUTANS, who live, play and wear a blue shirt in trees. 

P is for PYTHON, thankfully in fogged-up cage, so I couldn’t see.                                 Third “lettered” animal I did not see.                                                                                              Q is for QUESTIONS with few answers that made the ZOO such a treat.

R is for RAILINGS with see-through cutouts at chair height.  Enlightened design

R is for RHINOCEROS,  like submerged rocks in the waterhole.

S is for the “SCREW” TREE.  Is it topiary art or Mother Nature’s sense of humor?  . 


Look way-back and see Screw tree; look up-front and see new safari-ish hat.

S is for SIAMANGS, “howlers,” in trees, black-furred, lesser apes, unseen.              Fourth “lettered” animal I did not see.                                                                                             T is for TAPIR, a giant, fuzzy, pillow against viewer glass.

U is for UNDERGROWTH, dense, but not intrusive. I like sunlit space.                           [See “J” and “L” above.]                  

V is for pretty good VIEWING, better when it’s lower for chaired-folks.      

W is for Googled WARTHOG, with  hoggy rump and canine teeth-tusks.                     [“W” herein is two syllables. Think “Dubya” and remember George W. Bush.]                   The closest pictured animal was an anteater, which I did not see.                                          X marks the mapped meeting spots that we MOSTLY reached.  

Y is for YOU because you’re special and because the ZOO has no YAKS.                  

Z is for ZEBRAS with same-striped fannies  How do not-moms know who’s who?

Hooray for field trips!                                                                                                                             I have trouble even thinking about caged animals, but the sculptures were great.  My favorite was the resting rhinoceros, which looked like a handsome, smooth, bumped, big rock,  almost lost in its surroundings.  Unphotographed.  Sigh.                                           Bring on the arboretum!

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A little excitement here.  Charlie tells the tale, [and I edit.]
We were just walking down the street and I recognized the reporter who fortunately was from a station we watch.  He asked if we’d like to be interviewed and it took about 2 nanoseconds for mom to say “yes!” (I declined and went into the Starbucks to get our lattes) She immediately started telling them how to do their jobs: “be sure to get my good side, don’t show the bald spot, …”.
[Okay, I did ask them to avoid my bald spot, but ONLY because it looked rashy after 3 hats – bucket baseball, and party hat with chin strap –blew away and left my head exposed to intense beach-sun.  But I did not DIRECT anything, for heaven’s sake.  I just gently reframed a question about “COVID thoughts” by relating my answer to the 24th Ave Pier, which is wonderful, new, and open to all through all of COVID.
This led to a mention of what to do about the pressing issue of Albert [the junker] from Homer, Alaska, who now hugs the Pier and is an eyesore.  Later I found out that Albert was once an Icelandic Coast Guard warrior who fought bravely against sea-grasping  England in  the Cod Wars. You go, Albert!    Clearly, he needs to begone from the Pier and, if Homer isn’t missing him, maybe whoever lets him live by the Pier should arrange, instead, for Albert to become a seaside memorial made of his cut up metal pieces reformed as public art.  I think the interview team saw the possibilities.
Only then, as the videographer gathered his gear did the interviewer mention that his colleague was from Maine.  I had mentioned my 35 Roseledge summers, so the camera guy asked, “Where in Maine?”  When I said Tenants Harbor, he paused, looked a bit stunned, and said, ‘“I’m from TH.  My grandfather was caretaker for the Aldrich’s.”  Thus we began the exchange of names that is the Maine way.   I mentioned Tim’s Gramp  Dowling, caretaker for the Smiths, and Tim, the East Wind Inn, he added Cod End and the Millers, and that he had gone to school with Scott!                                            What are the chances?!! ]
When I came out the filming was done but the Roseledge stories had started (everything leads to Roseledge stories eventually).   [I detect a bit of snark.]
The next morning at breakfast, I thought maybe one or two of my fellow oldies-but- goodies would have seen last evening’s early local news, so I put on my best humblebrag look and casually rolled in, but no one said anything.  NOT ONE PERSON.  Amy, concierge extraordinaire, had lured them all, ALL, into the Vitality Room / theater at 7p.m., local news time,  to watch “Steel Magnolias.” AARGH! 
Fortunately, so you don’t have to miss out, Charlie, best son ever, has rescued a bit.  Please note that my eyes are open in this screenshot. If you look at the whole segment [See link below the screenshot.], my ten seconds of fame comes at 1:18 into the segment.
Burning question:  can you be a star, if no one watches?


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Our monthly fitness charge was to frolic among a chart of flowers by tallying our week’s exercise, self-assessing the results and assigning our tokens to “appropriate” flowers. To the Physical Exercises suggested, e.g. walking, climbing stairs, I suggested including Mind Exercises because, as an exercise, my tepid, left-handed wave was, well, tepid, and I wanted to move among the flowers.  Once Mind Exercises were included,  I had to figure out what a Mind Exercise was, beyond the daily routine of Wordle, NYT crossword puzzle, Sudoku, Spelling Bee, and jigsaw puzzles [color analysis].  Three “exercises” come to mind

“Begone rain! Come Spring sun! ” says Seattle’s moving body bag that talks.

I cracked a very funny joke. 

During a Poetry Club reading of poems, Steve admitted to being ill-prepared, but he brought his new book of Amanda Gorman’s poetry [Remember her at the Biden Inauguration?] and had already read one poem.  So, as he readies himself to read a second one and looks AND LOOKS at one page in the book,, I begin to laugh inappropriately hard, and convulsively ask, “Is her poem named ‘Silence,’ and are you to say nothing for 3 minutes?”  Steve looks up at me chortling, maybe crying a bit, and says, “What?”, pauses,  and begins laughing, too.  No one else was laughing or even paying attention.

So I  cracked a joke for sure, but is it even a joke if only the teller laughs? I was saved from this dilemma because Steve laughed with me.  Then he said that he wasn’t laughing at my joke; he was laughing at me laughing at my joke. So problem or no, I cracked a very funny joke, and I’m laughing even as I write this.  I award myself an equivalent challenge of a Statue of Liberty up and down climb of 324 stairs. 

I had a really good idea

I can’t find the NYT article about traits of a resilient person [Jane Brody’s interview with Pauline Boss is good, too.], but I can recall thinking, “Aha! These are the traits of an adapter, who, by adapting, demonstrates resilience!.”  This good idea expands my earlier thinking about “adapting as a way of life and living longer” which I explained to my fellow Oldies, but Goodies here at the Landmark.  I  made up three stages of becoming an adapter – accepting, accommodating, adapting – which, if adopted, should lead to living longer.  And, as we here are all of an age, we are obviously master adapters.   

Now, how exciting would it be if adapting were considered a creative act? Every combo of person, need and situation calls for a singular solution which, when implemented, is a creative act of adaptation.  Become one with the  adaptations and, Voila! you are resilient.  Good ideas happen in an “Aha! Moment”, but they happen only to prepared minds and Zoom calls, visits with friends, constant alertness to possibilities which your son pretends to ignore, reading wisely and, apparently, subliminally, and so on.  For the year- long interspersion of maybe significant thoughts, I award myself a tough, but worthy climb of Ireland’s Michael Skellig 1200 rocky steps.

Gleeful evil Oldie plotting? Or Adapter moving oatmeal?   

I thought of the right book for the right person at the right time.

Call it the teacher / librarian / Roseledge Books soothsayer in me, but I love being able to think of reasons why a certain book might be just right for someone else, but it is is a joy and challenge and friendship cementer that requires perpetual attention. 

 For their wedding, Dazzle, who works with New York water, gets Peter Wheelwright’s The Doorman, a mix of fact and fiction about three generations of intertwined families who saw “their” river in the Catskills be turned into a faucet for NYC users, and Andrew, who works with photography, gets Errol Morris’ Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography which the NYT reviewer writes “is an attempt to make sense of the relationship between the documentarian, the documented and the truth.”  Actually, the whole review is worth a read.  For me, the Wheelwright book addresses the nature and nurture of families which is helpful for my family album project [a coming attraction], and the Morris book is among my very few favorite “search books”.   

For their exchange trip to Sweden, the Minneapolis naturalist / educators might enjoy Frederick Sjoberg’s The Fly Trap, about which The Guardian reviewer says,Perhaps the only thing crazier than a hoverfly obsessive would be to write a genre-defying memoir about it and expect to find a publisher and readers. This, of course, is exactly what the writer, translator and biologist has done with The Fly Trap, and a small book about an obscure branch of entomology has become unexpectedly big”  Again, the whole review is worth a read.  The book is one of my favorite memoirs.  

For the perpetual awareness this brain exercise requires, I  think an equivalent challenge might be admiring or hiking the 272 steps up and/or down at Golden Gardens with a ride to and/ or from the park, but for sure with time out for a a latte / book break and lots of ocean ponderings.

And just for the physical exercise record:  I do get a flower for “swimming” each week, during which I walk in, not on, water and with noodle, flutter kick my way to exhaustion.  It’s not exactly swimming, and Charlie helps, but I love it.  

I see a lavish bouquet forming.








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In a world befuddled by dis-information or mis-information, a beacon of light appears in Tressie Macmillam Cottom’s column, “How to Avoid Drowning in an Ocean of Information”.

I found it this morning, just in time to share at breakfast. “Not a sure conversation starter,” Charlie, the wet rag, drolled. That, of course, has never stopped me, but just in case it’s a “more coffee, less talk” day, I will share with you her call out to Heather Cox Richardson, whose daily “Letter from an American” I love, and her concluding paragraph, which makes bigger points about finding and choosing from the best available information. Then, I hope you read the whole column.

“Another way to look at information sources is to focus on genre, rather than platform. Newsletters are a powerful entry into the information ecosystem. My theory is that newsletters are an evolution of a very old genre: the new iteration of pamphlets. Political pamphlets are hundreds of years old. They are somewhere between “objective” journalism and polemic. They often present deep explorations of topics and explicitly unsettled arguments. Good newsletters during information events put those window frames up for debate. They are systematic in their analysis of the event but also think critically about the sources that shape the analysis. The historian Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter is a good example….

A good media diet is about more than diversity of sources. It is also about information with different purposes. Investigative journalism takes time and resources. Social media shrinks time and resources but can respond quickly. Newsletters give context and help us make meaning of information events. We cannot parse everything. The answer to the problems created by scale is to acknowledge that we are not infinitely deep containers that can take on as much water as information demands. We must witness, but we must remember that we have limits.”


Another time, the “how to find the best possible information” quest needs to address libraries’ ongoing commitment to neutrality, especially in these polarized and polarizing times, if only to be ready for the next argument with a disagreeable friend. Maintaining that commitment to the “intellectual freedom” that an “enlightened citizenry” needs and deserves from the publicly-supported library, which is, in the words of a friend, “the mind of the nation”, is not easy, maybe even under threat, but oh so worthy of discussion.


My of-an-age son has 7th-grader humor.  Sometimes funny.  Sigh!


After 40 years of trying to provoke people to care about why they think they know something, I’m now just a frustrated information user who, in the midst of mis-, dis-, or just plain bad information, hopes today’s info-nerds have better ideas about what to do.    Here are a few ideas, with my “interspersions:”  

“Estonia mandates everything from how online content is created to how statistics can be manipulated, lessons about social media, trolls, the difference between fact and opinion and what makes a good source. [Good, but better would be Information as a moving thing, e.g. distribution, change/editing, flowing from source through deltas to merging,…]  

“[Finnish] High school students are given a series of political topics and asked to compile lists of stories and commentary from across the internet, then investigate the veracity of claims. [Vague on skills needed and tactics used to compile and investigate]

”[Stanford History Education Group suggests] that kids learn how to assess the reliability of the specific information they’ve found online, who published it and for what purpose, thus look at the whole ecosystem in which the information resides.” [Life  or “ecosystem” of information is a good idea, but the Internet makes distribution a study in itself, with change of purpose possible at each “growth” spurt.  Frankly, this approach sounds simplistic.]


Whew!  Good to be finished with that.  I need the tab space for my current Poetry Club assignment of choosing 3 poems from a list of international poets.  ARGH!    Too much angst and flowery language, too little good-nature and crisp-ness. So, thanks to Kathy’s good idea, I’m trying to use the Japanese “founding” of  haiku as sufficiently international to use  Japanese-ish, Caroline Lazar’s very funny NewYorker haiku.  I also need to either “mediate” translator differences in addressing Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, “Psalm”, or just accept all of the differences in one version and be done with it.  Sniff, humph, or say what you will, I’m having a very good time.

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